Retail is an area that, in terms of customer-facing technology, has remained relatively unchanged for the last few decades, with only a few advances ever being seen by consumers. Think barcode scanners and online shopping. Other than that, the brick-and-mortar experience has left a little to be desired for technophiles.
Reply, an Italy-based systems integration and application management company, brought a selection of kit to London yesterday, to demonstrate to retail brands that there is room for progress both in store and at home, and V3 went along to have a look.
The real headline-grabbing technology on display was an augmented reality shopping experience, and it's better than you'd think. Powered by a modified XBox Kinect camera and featuring a full-length mirror-style TV, the augmented reality dressing room app allows shoppers to switch clothes without having to go through the ungainly process of actually getting changed.
Instead, clothing is superimposed onto the user, and actually shapes itself around their body. It's not perfect; sometimes clothing will have to be moved slightly, but the interface is very intuitive, and has the air of The Sims about it. What's more, the clothes have fronts, backs and sides, so you can turn around to view your items at any angle. The clothes themselves have genuine physics to them, powered by the Unity game engine, and they move when you move your body.
The whole environment is controlled by gestures, and there are plenty of social features integrated, too. Call a friend, show them your intended purchase and ask for their opinion. Send the virtual clothes to them and let them try the service out for themselves. Even upload pictures to Facebook so all of your contacts can see what you're trying on.
The video below shows the equipment being used by a model, who was well trained in using the interface, but we also had the chance to give it a go, and while it was an odd experience to begin with, it soon became relatively natural to select clothes and try them on.
For retailers or brands who want to adopt the technology, all that's required is a photo of the front and back of the item in question. Reply will do the rest, according to Luigi Cicchese, a partner in the Concept division of Reply . "That bit is our added value to the product," he said.
High-end fashion chains are not known for their acceptance of imperfection, and while the technology is certainly in its very early stages, it's easy to imagine those brands being particularly fussy about the ways in which their clothing will be displayed in an augmented fashion. We wonder if they will want more than just two photographs to be used to recreate their items digitally.
Of course, Reply will cater to the individual needs of clients, so this will no doubt be a problem that is easy to solve. The spokesman said he believes the technology like this will be integrated into smart TVs and even bus stops in the near future, as well as units making their way into stores. We've heard this before of course, but as new technologies such as Google Glass and Kinect grows in use, shoppers could well be drawn to take advantage of such tools.
There's certainly a lot of potential in this technology, and once it's refined, we certainly wouldn't mind forgoing the changing room ‘experience'.
09 Jul 2013
Maplin has announced it is selling the Velleman K8200 3D printer in the UK, at a low price point (for 3D printers) of just £699.99, and V3 went along to the retailer's Monument branch for a demonstration of the new device.
The K8200 has a printing plate that is heated in addition to the extrusion nozzle heating the polylactic acid (PLA) or ABS plastic filament that is used to build up objects.
When in action, the print plate moves horizontally in both the X and Y axes while the nozzle applies the molten filament and moves up in the Z axis to create layers nominally about 0.2mm thick, but can step up in increments as small as 0.781 micrometres.
The K8200 works quickly, and produced the object shown above – which stands about 10cm high when finished and comprises over 5,000 layers – in about half an hour. Some rival 3D printer models would take several hours to build up the same object, according to Velleman.
The picture above shows a sample of various objects produced using the K8200. The filament is available in ten different colours, but the printer only takes one filament reel at a time and you cannot switch reels during printing. Objects with more than one colour are possible, but need to be produced in separate runs.
Quite complex objects can be produced using the K8200, including this container, which has a screw-fit lid. The two parts are produced separately, but printing is so accurate that the parts fit together without any difficulty.
Each filament reel holds 1kg of filament, and so the number of objects you can print from one reel will vary depending on the weight of each one. However, the container shown in the second image above weighed about 5g, meaning that you should be able to produce about 200 of these before using up a single reel.
Other sample objects produced by the K8200 are shown below.
The Velleman K8200 is controlled using software known as Repetier-Host, which runs on Windows, Linux and Mac systems. The Dell laptop shown below is in the midst of producing the container shown earlier in the second image. The cube outline around the 3D shape marks the maximum size object that can be produced using the K8200.
The printer itself is fitted with a Sanguino-derived controller board, which is itself apparently compatible with the Arduino single-board computer popular with electronics hobbyists.
The Velleman spokesman, Pieter Nartus, told V3 that the company expects in future to produce versions that can accept 3D models stored on a flash memory card, removing the need to plug the 3D printer into a computer.
More information on the Velleman K8200 3D printer is available from the website, while those intersted in buying can order from the Maplin website. At the time of writing, only pre-orders were being taken, with deliveries expected by the end of July.
01 Jul 2013
SAN FRANCISCO: Intel has revealed details of its research project called Connected Vehicle Safety, carried out between the chip maker and National Taiwan University to study communication between vehicles.
At the yearly Research@Intel Day in San Francisco, the partners showed off two scooters that communicate with esch other.
Instead of using radio communication, the tail light is modulated and a receiver is mounted under the handlebars allowing a vehicle to send information not only to the following vehicles, but also to vehicles on the right and left.
The current implementation, which is part of a research project, uses a laptop to modulate the tail light and a smartphone connected to another laptop to show messages. While laptops are not very practical on scooters, the future will allow Intel to shrink the design to a palm-sized microcontroller, according to the company.
By using individually modulated tail lights, the receiver will be able to track the angle and distance to other vehicles.
Both laptops were running GNU radio and Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP). During the show, Intel also showed off an advanced headlight that uses modulated beams to minimise the glare from rain and snow.
Written by Mads Ølholm
27 Jun 2013
Microsoft's preview of Windows 8.1 is available to download and test now, but many users will be hard pushed to notice any difference at first glance, as a post-upgrade system presents the same tiled Start screen as before.
However, start to use Windows 8.1, and the changes start to crop up. These include tweaks to the user interface designed to improve the experience, an enhanced Internet Explorer 11, and one feature many professionals will have been waiting for: the ability to boot straight to the desktop.
On the user interface side, you can now customise the Start screen by swiping up from the bottom edge, which allows you to reposition tiles and create named groups of tiles.
You can also resize tiles, with new large (see image above) and small size tiles supported. Oddly, not all tiles support all of the sizes; we found that the mail app could not be switched to a large tile, for example.
Swiping up anywhere else on the Start screen now pulls up the Apps screen. This is reminiscent of swiping between multiple home screens on Android devices, and may have been implemented to make smartphone users feel more at home.
The lock screen can also now be customised via the Settings Charm (see below), allowing users the option to show notifications such as new emails and calendar entries. In addition, users can now choose to display a slide show of their photographs as the background.
The Apps screen shows a number of newly added apps in Windows 8.1, such as an Alarms tool, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, and Sound Recorder. These are not all consumer-oriented, with new admin tools such as a Windows Memory Diagnostic, and pretty much all the apps found in Windows 8 have also been given an update.
For those with legacy Windows applications, you can set Windows 8.1 to boot direct to the Desktop. This is enabled from the Desktop itself, by selecting "Properties" from the taskbar. Under the Navigation tab, checking "go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in" enables this (see below).
Windows 8.1 comes with IE11, which Microsoft claims has enhanced performance. It also enables you to have an unlimited number of tabs open, which you can simply tap between instantly (see below). However, this is still not as convenient as the tabs on a desktop browser as you have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen in order to see the available tabs.
IE11 also includes support for WebGL, enabling hardware support for 3D graphics acceleration in web content. We tried this out with a few WebGL-enabled sites (see example site below), and found that some worked, but not all of them.
Much has been made of the supposed reappearance of the Start button in Windows 8.1, but in reality, Microsoft has just added a Windows logo to the left edge of the taskbar, where the Start button was placed in older versions of Windows. However, tapping this just takes you to the Start screen, and does not bring up the old-style menus.
While many of the changes made to the user interface in Windows 8.1 are cosmetic, we found the overall effect is to make it feel a bit more "grown up" and less like a platform designed for kindergarten use, as the overhauled Windows Store (below) demonstrates. In fact, we would go as far as to say that Windows 8.1 is what Windows 8 should have been in the first place.
However, like with the original Windows 8 release, we found that many of the new features are not especially intuitive. For example, IE11 allows you to have two browser tabs open side by side on the screen, but it is not at all clear how you are supposed to do this. After much trial and error, we discovered you have to swipe up to show the available tabs, then hold down your finger on the one you want to appear alongside the already visible one.
In other words, while the changes in Windows 8.1 are useful and very welcome, we do not believe they are enough to convert anyone with a violent dislike for the radical user changes that Microsoft introduced with the release of Windows 8 last year.
25 Jun 2013
Since the arrival of the first smartphone, phone makers have been gradually increasing the size of handset screens. This trend reached new heights with Samsung's original Galaxy Note Android phone, which was the first successful handset to feature a 5in-plus display. Since the Note, 5in-plus displays have become a growing trend with numerous companies releasing gargantuan handsets. However, this year Sony's taken the prize, unveiling its 6.4in Xperia Z Ultra "smartphone", claiming the plus-sized device is tailor made for business users offering them a host of productivity-focused services.
Design and build
Visually the Ultra looks like a blown up version of its more moderately sized sibling, the Xperia Z. This is largely because the Ultra boasts the same OmniBalance design philosophy employed on Sony's Z tablet and smartphone. This isn't too much of a problem as the angular, shiny design still feels fairly fresh and remains radically different to competing companies. This adds up to give the Ultra a sense of character lost on some other top end smartphones.
In hand the Ultra feels very different to any other smartphone. This is as much because of its ultra-slim 6.5mm thickness as much as its large size. The Ultra's thin, angular design meant that during our hands-on time with the device, we found it slightly cumbersome in hand, even compared to other plus-sized smartphones like the Galaxy Note 2. Our experience was not helped by the fact the Ultra is heavier than your average handset, weighing 212g.
However, our time with the Ultra did leave us reasonably confident of the phone's build quality. Putting aside the fact the Ultra is IP55/IP58 certified - meaning it should be scratch, dust and water resistant - its design feels very top end. The Ultra looks and feels like a top-end device, with its aluminium and Gorilla Glass chassis at first glance feeling like one of the toughest we've ever tested. We're really looking forward to putting its certification to the test come our full review.
Sony made a big deal about the Ultra's 6.4in screen claiming it is one of the most advanced ever seen on a smartphone, featuring a veritable arsenal of custom technologies. These include Sony's full HD 'Triluminos' display, custom X-Reality for mobile and Bravia technologies. The technologies aid the screen's performance, doing things like letting the phone analyse whatever is being displayed and "optimise it". It does this by doing things like tweaking the screen's colour balance and brightness levels.
While we were really impressed at how good the display looked running these technologies, during our hands on we were far more interested with the unnamed technology that let us make notes on the screen with regular pens and pencils. The tech let us take notes using a regular, wooden HB pencil, removing the need to carry around a custom and expensive stylus, like the S Pen peripheral used on Samsung's Galaxy Note devices. While this may sound small, we're thinking the ability to pull any old pencil or pen out to start taking notes on the Ultra's crisp and suitably large screen could be a welcome boon for any business user looking for a portable notepad replacement.
Operating system and software
The Ultra runs on a customised version of Google's Android 4.2 operating system. The customisations are largely the same as the Xperia Z's, with Sony having loaded things like its custom Walkman and PlayStation Store services onto the phone.
In fact the only new features of note we noticed during our hands on were a few nifty tweaks to the OS' keyboard design. Key touches were the addition of a one-handed mode and note button. The one handed key switched the keyboard to a more compact layout, pushing the on-screen keys to either the left or right hand of the display in a bid to make the Ultra usable one handed. The note key tells the Ultra you're about to start writing on the screen using a pencil or pen and opens up a scribble menu similar to that seen on Samsung S apps.
The Ultra is confirmed to be the first phone to run using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with a 2.2GHz quad-core CPU, and it will feature 4G LTE connectivity. This means on paper the the Ultra could be one of the fastest phones ever released. Sadly during our hands-on time we didn't have the time to properly benchmark the Ultra or see how it performed running intensive applications. However during our opening basic tests the Ultra felt very fast, opening applications instantly and coping with multiple tab web browsing with ease.
The Ultra features an 8MP rear camera with the same Sony Exmor RS for mobile sensor used on the Z. We only got to test the camera in the very dimly-lit showroom floor at Sony's event, but found it was fairly good. While shots taken without flash universally didn't look quite as nice as those taken on the Nokia Lumia 925 we had in our pocket, they were still far better than those taken on most smartphones.
The Ultra comes loaded with a sizeable 3000mAh battery. We didn't get a chance to battery burn the phone during our hands on, but we're thinking its large bright screen could be a real drain on the Ultra's battery. Clearly aware of this Sony's loaded the same stamina mode featured on its other Jelly Bean phones onto the Ultra. This means users can extend the Ultra's battery life by reducing the phone's performance.
The Xperia Z Ultra is set to launch globally from the third quarter 2013, but the price has not yet been announced. While Sony's clearly confident there's a market in super-sized smartphones, we're still not convinced it's a very big one, at least not in Europe where the only 5in-plus devices to ever make any real sales headway belong to Samsung's Note series. Still, given the wealth of custom technologies on offer, if any giant phone's going to break Samsung's control of the space, it'll be the Ultra.
Written by V3's Alastair Stevenson
For the last few years Korean tech giant Samsung has universally been acknowledged as top dog in the Android ecosystem. Sales of the firm's popular Galaxy smartphones and tablets constantly dominate the charts and to date it's the only firm to ever come close to matching the record breaking sales of Apple's competing iPad and iPhone devices.
However, sales of its Ativ PCs have been less impressive, with competitors like Lenovo controlling a significantly larger chunk of the PC market. Clearly unhappy with the situation, Samsung's unveiled its new Ativ Q hybrid laptop-come-tablet hoping to leverage its Android superiority to steal a bigger stake of the general PC market.
However with interest in Windows 8 still negligible it's unclear whether the dual-booting Android and Windows powered Q will be seen as an actual perk. This is especially true considering the recent arrival of Microsoft's homemade, super-powerful Surface Pro.
Measurements and weight
Samsung Ativ Q: 327x218x13.9mm, 1.29kg
Microsoft Surface Pro: 275x173x13mm, 907g
When it comes to size and weight neither the Q or the Pro are lightweight, with both weighing close to twice as much as less powerful Atom-based Windows 8 tablets. However of the two the Q is the heavier, with its physically attached slide-out keyboard making it close to 300g heavier than the Pro - even when the Microsoft machine is connected to its lighter detachable keyboard.
However, as noted in our hands-on review, the Q's increased weight does translate to pretty solid build quality and we found it was far more comfortable to type on than the Pro.
Samsung Ativ Q: 13.3in qHD+ 3200x1800, 275ppi
Microsoft Surface Pro: 10.6in touchscreen, 1920x1080, 208ppi
Samsung's made a big deal about the Q's screen claiming it is the brightest and clearest ever seen on any Windows 8 tablet. On paper there's plenty of evidence to support Samsung's claims, with the Q's larger 13.3in display boasting a 275ppi that puts the Pro's, still reasonable, 10.6in, 208ppi unit to shame.
Samsung Ativ Q: Intel Core i5 Haswell
Microsoft Surface Pro: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5
When it was first released in the US the Pro was a powerhouse device running off a top-end Intel Core i5 chip. However, having taken its sweet time to finally arrive in the UK, its powerhouse status has waned with Intel unveiling its latest Haswell line of processors just before the Pro launched. This means that the Ativ Q could well be a nippier device than the Pro.
Samsung Ativ Q: Up to nine hours quoted
Microsoft Surface Pro: 5.5 hours in V3 tests
Another added boon to Intel's Haswell line of chips is that they're far more power-efficient than their predecessors. This is a good thing as older Core i5-powered Windows 8 tablets, like the Surface Pro, suffered from battery life issues, generally petering out at around the five and a half hour mark. This is why Samsung has listed the Q as having an impressive nine hour life - here's hoping the claim proves true.
Samsung Ativ Q: Windows 8, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Microsoft Surface Pro: Windows 8 Pro
The Ativ Q is one of a select number of devices that comes with both Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows operating systems pre-installed. The device is able to dual-boot, running both OSs at the same time and can even share data between the two, thanks to some nifty software touches by Samsung. The Pro by comparison runs on the more premium Windows 8 Pro version of Microsoft's OS. It's unclear yet whether the Ativ Q will be able to upgrade to the professional version of Windows 8.
Samsung Ativ Q: 128GB
Microsoft Surface Pro: 64GB or 128GB
Storage-wise, both are available in 128GB options, though you can also pick up a 64GB Surface Pro if you want to save some cash. How much of a value proposition it will be remains unknown as Samsung is yet to reveal the Q's price. To get an equivalent 128GB Surface Pro with a keyboard costs from £899, while the 64GB model can be purchased for £819.
Raced head-to-head, on paper the Samsung Ativ Q does outpace the Pro, which thanks to a series of delays getting to the UK is fast becoming a previous generation device. Chief sins are its non-Haswell Intel processor and slightly lower ppi display. Still, given we don't know the Ativ Q's price at the moment, the upgraded tech could well come at a premium cost.
Check back with V3 soon for a full review of the Samsung Ativ Q, and read our full Surface Pro review here.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
21 Jun 2013
Windows 8's app shortage has been a sticking point for many buyers since the operating system launched late last year. For both enterprise and consumer buyers looking for a decent bring your own device (BYOD) option, the OS' marketplace has been woefully understocked when it comes to apps and has shamelessly overcharged for the select few it has.
Clearly aware of this Korean tech giant Samsung has looked to solve the problem, creating its new Ativ Q hybrid, a device that can dual boot Google's app-rich Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS alongside Microsoft's Windows 8, theoretically meaning users can enjoy the consumer perks of Android while retaining the productivity perks of Windows.
Design and build
Visually the Ativ Q looks a lot like most hybrid devices, featuring a similar design to Sony's recently unveiled Vaio Duo. The device starts off as a standard tablet, but can be converted into a fully functioning laptop, by sliding the screen back to reveal an attached hidden keyboard.
A consequence of the hidden keyboard is the Q feels significantly chunkier and and heavier than a standalone Windows 8 tablet, measuring in at 327x218x13.9mm and weighing 1.29kg. While this isn't too bad for people looking for a bespoke laptop replacement it does mean that those looking for a lightweight tablet will do best to look elsewhere.
However, during our hands-on we were impressed by how much Samsung's managed to load into the design, packing it with USB3.0, USB2.0, micro HDMI, RJ45 (dongle), HP/Mic combo and microSD ports.
We were also impressed with the Q's build quality, with its metal chassis feeling robust and the hinge connecting the screen and keyboard proving far more sturdy than those seen on most other hybrid devices. We also found the keyboard, while a little squished together, was fairly comfortable to type on with its keys feeling responsive and suitably well built.
During our hands on we did notice the lack of a full touchpad. In order to make space for the keys Samsung's opted to load the Q with a Lenovo trackpad-point ball that sits at the centre of the keyboard. While we found the trackpoint suitably responsive we know some users aren't fans of the input design, preferring the larger and more common touchpad mouse replacement. Another key design cut we noticed was the lack of a dock for the S Pen Stylus that comes bundled with the Q.
Samsung made a lot of noise about the Q's 13.3in, 3200x1800, 275ppi display, claiming it's the brightest and clearest ever seen on a Windows 8 tablet. The firm went so far as to claim the Q's screen will make the device usable in direct, bright sunlight, a feat most tablets and laptops are yet to achieve.
While we only got to test the Q in the controlled lighting conditions of the Samsung showroom floor, we have to concede our opening tests proved there is some truth to the Korean firm's claim. Testing the display we found it boasted brilliant brightness and contrast levels, great viewing angles and was far crisper than we expected.
The Q's most interesting feature is its ability to dual-boot Microsoft's Windows 8 and Google's Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating systems. The device does this automatically whenever you turn the Q on and lets you switch between the two simply by clicking on the "dual-OS" tile housed in the Windows 8 touch UI. Users can then revert back to Windows 8 at any time simply by pressing the capacitive Windows button housed on the Q's front or slide-out keyboard.
Another nifty feature of the dual-boot is the ability to actually create shortcuts to Android apps in Windows 8. The feature is a clear move by Samsung to solve Windows 8's app shortage. Testing the Q we found the transition was very smooth, jumping between the two operating systems and we're looking forward to more thoroughly testing how Android and Windows can complement one another come our full review.
The Q is confirmed to run off one of Intel's latest Intel Core i5 Haswell processors, boast 4GB of RAM and feature Intel HD Graphics 4400 graphics. This means that, while the Q won't be great at running super-intensive Windows programmes, like hardcore 3D modelling tools or games, it should still be fairly fast and cope with most general use tasks. During our hands-on we didn't notice any problems with the Q's performance with it loading and running both Android and Windows applications issue free.
Battery and storage
As well as increased power, Haswell chips are also meant to be far more efficient than older Intel processors and as a result are meant to vastly improve devices' battery lives. Because of this Samsung's listed the Q as having a reasonable nine-hour battery life. While time constraints meant we didn't get a chance to test this, if true, it will mean the Q has one of the longest battery lives seen on a non-Atom Windows 8 machine. Most competitors, like the Microsoft Surface Pro, only last on average around five and a half hours. Storage-wise the Q is set to come loaded with a 128GB SSD.
Overall our first encounter with the Samsung Ativ Q was a positive one. The Q's dual-boot feature makes it scream BYOD, having the potential to offer all the productivity perks of Windows 8, alongside Android's consumer app offering. However, there are still several key questions that need to be answered before we can know if the Q will actually make good on its potential. First is how much it will actually cost and second, is how the device will handle security - a key concern on both operating systems. It remains unclear if businesses will be able to secure both the Android and Windows operating systems without overloading the Q with multiple tools - thus eating up its modest 4GB of memory and hampering its performance.
The Q is set for release in "summer this year", check back with V3 later for a full review.
Written by V3's Alastair Stevenson
19 Jun 2013
Chinese tech powerhouse Huawei has been trying to conquer the Western smartphone market for some time, and has been releasing a host of ultra-affordable Android handsets for close to a decade now. However it's only in the last few years the company has dared to compete in the top-end Apple and Samsung-dominated market, releasing it's D and P series of stylish and powerful Android smartphones.
Yet despite featuring some top-end tech and undercutting the cost of their more expensive Korean and American competitors, the devices have so far failed to fully woo British buyers. But now Huawei has announced a fresh assault on the top-end space, unveiling its latest Ascend P6 handset.
Design and build
Huawei made a big fuss about the Ascend P6's design, building it to be the thinnest smartphone in the world, measuring in at an anorexic 133x66x6.18mm and weighing a modest 120g. Despite its modest measurements the P6 does feel fairly solid. This is thanks largely to its predominantly aluminium chassis, which, despite feeling light in hand, offered no give under pressure. We think the device could survive the odd accidental bump and scrape.
The Ascend P6 looks fairly similar to the iPhone 5, boasting close to identical rectangular design and metal rimming around its sides. In fact if you didn't turn the P6 around and look at the Huawei logo and brushed metal finish on its back, you could easily be forgiven for thinking the device was designed by Apple's Jonathan Ive.
Within the tiny chassis of the P6 sits a reasonably sized 4.7in 720p, 312ppi HD touchscreen. While not as pixel-packed as the Samsung Galaxy S4's 5in full HD super Amoled 1920x1080, 441ppi display, we were reasonably impressed with the P6's screen. Testing it on the bright showroom floor the display proved to be fairly glare resistant and constantly appeared crisp and vibrant, even when viewed at an awkward angle.
The Huawei Ascend P6 comes loaded with Google's Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system. While it's good to see the P6 running the latest version of Android it's important to note Huawei's heavily customised the OS, overlaying it with its custom Emotion user interface.
The use of Emotion means that the P6 user interface is very different to those seen on most Android smartphones, featuring a host of redesigned application icons and custom Huawei widgets. The most noticeable of these is the P6's Me Widget. The widget is designed to use data stored on the phone to collate services and applications often used, and push them to the front of the UI.
While we didn't get a chance to fully take a look at Emotion during our brief time with the P6, we did find ourselves occasionally getting frustrated with the slew of changes that have been made. Even seasoned Android users could struggle to find the setting or menu they want.
The P6 runs using Huawei's 1.5GHz quad core K3V2+ processor and boasts 2GB RAM. Huawei claims the processor is one of the fastest mobile chips ever made and will offer users unprecedented 4G speeds when the LTE version is released in the UK in October. The 3G model we were using was still fairly fast, being able to run pre-installed games applications, such as Fruit Ninja, hassle free and generally navigating menus smoothly.
Sadly the unit wasn't connected to the showroom floor WiFi and didn't have an active data connection, meaning we didn't get to test it online, or download a benchmarking tool to properly check the P6's speed.
Huawei loaded the P6 with an 8MP camera it claims will be able to top the S4's 13MP unit using the company's Imagesmart Engine technology. While the details of how the photo-enhancing technology works remain vague, the few test shots we took on the showroom floor looked reasonable as regards colour balance and brightness. We're really looking forward to putting the camera through some more thorough tests in our full review.
The P6 also features a 5MP front camera, which proved vastly superior to the VGA and 2MP front snappers seen on most competing Android smartphones.
Set to cost a modest £329 in the UK, while the phone doesn't feel terribly original our first impressions of the Huawei Ascend P6 are positive. The device features a nice-looking, albeit Apple-like, design and contains some pretty impressive technical specifications you'd only expect to see in a much more expensive device.
The Huawei Ascend P6 is set to launch in Europe in July, check back with V3 then for a full review, or click on our video demo below to see the phone in action.
Written by V3's Alastair Stevenson